Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chemo Suite...Round 2

Sorry it took me a few days to update. After 6 hours at Sloan Kettering and 5 hours in the car, I was exhausted. Yesterday I took a break from the melanoma world because I needed it. I was emotionally and physically exhausted after Thursday & Friday.

Before I get to my day, I want to update y'all. Remember how I asked for you to pray for Erin & Tina? Well, the prayers must have worked. Erin received excellent news on Friday. Apparently Miss Erin has a fabulous immune system. Her body has been fighting the melanoma on its own! She is free from scans, etc, until August. Hopefully in August the scans will remain clear. Tina is still struggling. With the help of hospice, she has been moved to her home to continue her fight. Praying for peace and strength...

So, Friday was round 2 of the Ipi/Placebo trial. Prior to treatment, I had to go to give blood to make sure I was healthy enough for treatment. Another 16 tubes gone...My poor veins are so frustrated. The nurse had to run my hand under water for about 6 minutes before she even attempted to stick me. Lucky my hand was so numb from the hot water that I could not feel the needle.  Everyone knows me now...The receptionist remembered me, the nurses fought over whose seat I was going to sit in, and they picked up the conversation that we were having last time. The one nurse thought I had breast cancer. When I corrected her, she shook her head, and said that she sees melanoma so often now. SUNSCREEN, people!

Steven, the assistant to my oncologist, was sitting in the lab waiting for me.Once the vampires took my blood, Mom and I headed back to see The Wizard. I know I say this a lot, but I really do adore him. He knows how to make me feel so much better about everything. He asked how the biopsy went, I told him that the most painful part was the doctor touching my left shoulder, etc. He asked how bad the pain is, I told him that as long as no one touches me, the pain is about an 8. If someone touches me, well, it's totally a 10. Of course then he says, "well...I have to touch you" and points for me to get on the chair. Although it feels extremely uncomfortable to me, The Wizard says he does not feel anything concerning. He still believes that the pain is related to all of the surgeries I have had in such a short amount of time.

Because I am the type of person who needs to know everything, I asked The Wizard, "So, what happens if the biopsy comes back as something less than desirable?" Before answering, he lectured me on how I should not go down the "what if" road. Then he said that there are 3 possibilities. 1) it is just a group of lymph nodes stuck closely together that are swelling because of all of the healing, and because they are having to work extra hard since I have no lymph nodes in the right side of my neck or the left arm. 2) It could be melanoma. If so, he said we will begin treatment ASAP. No trials. 3) It could be another form of cancer. However, he said "What are the chances that you will have 2 forms of cancer while you're in you're 20's? Highly unlikely. If it is, we will handle it."

Then he said something I love hearing, "Let me do the worrying. I get paid for it. You just live your life."

I really do adore him.

After seeing him, I had an hour to waste before treatment was scheduled to begin. During this time, the doctor has to verify that the blood work is OK and the pharmacist has to mix up the cocktail. An hour and a half passed when Steven walked over to us to let me know that everything was OK. They were just waiting on my drug. 30 more minutes pass, he walks back over. He tells me, "Everything is OK but they are double checking one last lab." This made me nervous. Was there a possibility that something in my blood work did not look right? Of course I asked him. He reassured me that everything is OK. I doubted him.

While trying not to worry, I began observing a woman who was seated across from me. (People watching...I love it.) She kept smiling at me every time we made eye contact which is unlike most of the folks in New York. Finally, I said "I love your shoes!" Because, really, what woman doesn't like to discuss shoes? AND they really were super cute! We begin chit chatting. I find out that my suspicion was right...She's from Charlotte, NC! I knew she was too friendly for NY. (Not that the people from NY aren't friendly, most are! But, I knew this pretty lady wasn't from the City. She looked too southern to me.) She flies from Charlotte to NYC once every 3 weeks to receive pills for a trial that she is participating in. I can't remember the technical term of her cancer, but it is cancer of the fat. This beautiful woman hardly looked like she had any fat on her to have cancer in! I hope to see her again...She was so friendly & kind.

OK, so I finally got called back to the "Chemo Suite." (That's the actual name of the area in the hospital.) My nurse was a hoot! She was young--maybe a few years older than I am--and flat out told me that based on my side effects, based on my medical info, she thinks I am getting the drug. She has seen people on this trial a lot, and the things that I have been experiencing are a strong indicator that I am indeed receiving Ipi. She joked, "You are too young to receive a placebo! ...Don't tell Ruth I am saying all of this!" (Ruth is the head research nurse of this trial.) Regardless if she really thinks I am getting the drug or not, she made me relax. She made me laugh! She is the perfect type of nurse for chemo, reassuring, intelligent, NORMAL! She treated me like I am a normal 24 year old girl. I appreciated that.

Please be the drug!!!!

My arm veins went into hiding, too.
I had to be wrapped in an extremely hot towel again.
But, then they decided to play nice!

Sleepy girl, Round TWO!

Round two was pretty painless...minus me giving my nurse a hard time. I had to go to the bathroom, so she's helping me get out of the chair, still hooked to the IV, wrapped in a blanket, and tangled up. So, when she goes to put the recliner back in sitting position, my IV gets trapped! Luckily she grabbed it right before the recliner closed. She said, "You just took a year off my life!" Oops...I also almost fell over after treatment. I kept her amused on Friday, that's for sure.

My blood pressure repeated its craziness on Friday. It started out pretty low, went back up to normal, dropped back down low. Crazy blood pressure...The nurse said only weird people have issues with their blood pressure during treatment. And no placebo can make that happen. Maybe she's right. Or maybe she was just teasing me to cheer me up. Who knows. It worked...that's all that matters!

I have felt pretty good since Friday. Exhausted, yes, but I have not had any horrible issues. I have been pretty nauseous since Friday with a horrible metallic taste in my mouth. I have also gotten pretty bad headaches, but I think that is more related to my lack of appetite.  Regardless of how bland most things taste right now, I have to eat.  I had a tiny rash on my right arm this morning, but that seems to have gone away. Still itches, but no rash! I asked her when most people get the most side effects. She said it is after the 3rd infusion. We will see!

Well, this post has been long enough. Thank you to everyone for all of their support this past week. I needed it and it was extremely appreciated! I am hoping to post good news the beginning of this week regarding the biopsy. I am keeping my fingers crossed! ;-)

Happy Sunday!


Tim said...

I'm glad you got through round 2 well. The people who work at these places are incredible and almost always seem to know the exact right thing to say.

A quick comment about your post... both this time and last time you included a picture of you in "the chair", it literally brought "the taste" into my mouth! (mine was a wicked combination of metal & garlic... ooops... sorry... that probably won't help your nausea at all). I couldn't keep my face from squinching up in disgust after seeing each of those pictures (don't take that the wrong way... it's definitely "the chair" that's causing the association!).

Anyway... after reading you're experiencing some of that too I just thought I'd let you know that there's someone else out here who's experiencing at least a SMALL fraction of your post-infusion recovery (you've heard of guys experiencing "sympathetic pregnancy"? Well, call this "sympathetic metal-mouth"!)

All the best to you Chelsea. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you tomorrow!

Kate said...

I'm glad to hear your veins eventually cooperated and that round 2 went smoothly. You are so brave and your mental attitude is, as usual, unbelievably upbeat and positive. Looking forward to hearing some great news this week :)

Al said...

My fingers are crossed (which explains my bad typing...). Thank you SO much for what you share in your blog. It's inspiring and educational and I continue to wish you only the best.

Rich McDonald said...

SO glad to hear your wonderful biopsy news! Keep the faith that you're going to kick melanoma's butt.

Chelsea said...

Thank you all for the support! You 4 always know just what to say!

Tim, the thought of adding a garlic taste to the taste I already grosses me out. Feel free to feel as disgusted as you'd like when seeing pictures! hahaha! You are actually the second person to tell me the bad taste came back into their mouth as they looked at the picture of me in the chemo suite. Oh, memories...

We really do have some interesting stories to share, huh?!